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March 17, 2014

Otsego 4-H robotics team gleans two awards

Staff Report
The Daily Star

---- — The competitive season has ended for RoboKronos, but the team garnered two awards at a recent regional contest. 

The Otsego 4-H FIRST Robotics Team 4203 competed in the Tech Valley FIRST Robotics Regional event at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from Thursday to Saturday, a media release said. 

The team didn’t qualify for further competition but members did return with two awards, team leader Paul Agoglia said Sunday. There were 38 teams from New York, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Montreal and Turkey participating, he said. 

In head-to head competition between alliances of three robots against three robots, after the first 42 matches, RoboKronos, the Otsego team, had a 7-2 record and a fifth-place rating, Agoglia said. On Saturday, an accident during competition that sheared off one of the robot’s arms caused problems that seemed to spread to several subsystems, he said. 

The robots were designed to pick up, throw and catch large exercise balls and move the balls toward goals at either end of a basketball-like court, Agoglia said. 

Though the arm was replaced with a spare part, the robot did not work as well as before, according to Agoglia, and three losses in a row put the team at 7-5 at the end of qualification rounds and in 15th place. 

Team members had been buoyed by the early results but were disappointed that during later alliance pairings, RoboKronos wasn’t selected to continue, Agoglia said. 

However, the team did win two major awards, Agoglia said in a media release. RoboKronos won the Team Imagery Award, which recognizes outstanding visual presentation. According to Celeste Brown-Thomas, a team parent volunteer, the team paid homage to its namesake with images of Kronos, a Greek Titan, including a Greek-style chariot for the robot. 

And team member Chase Thomas received the second award. Thomas, a junior at Oneonta High School, won the Dean’s List award after being nominated by his teammates and mentors, the release said. The award is named after FIRST founder Dean Kamen, Brown-Thomas said. 

Two winners are selected at each of the 50 or so regional contests, Agoglia said, and are eligible to compete in St. Louis to become one of 10 overall world-wide winners. The regional award will enhance Thomas’s applications to college, Agoglia said. 

Team 4203 is composed of 15 Oneonta High School students, said Agoglia, a retired technology education teacher and the team’s lead mentor. The team has about an equal number of adult mentors who help with development of the robot. 

The team will meet for a debriefing this afternoon, he said. The competition season is over, but students will have sponsor-events, choose leaders for next year and plan other activities for the months ahead. 

For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST, is a public charity founded to inspire students’ interest in science, math, engineering and technology. This is the team’s third year; in 2012, the team won a regional Rookie All-Star Award and went to the world championship in St. Louis.